Wednesday, April 30, 2014
What is narrow about it?
I was reading earlier this week about some remarks my least favorite politician made. No, it wasn't Obama. There is actually a politician I find more distasteful than him: Nancy Pelosi. She brought up the story in the Gospels where Jesus fed the 5000, and was trying to say Jesus would be all for welfare and food stamps.
Obama himself has tried to use the Bible to prove Jesus is OK with socialism, welfare, and the like. When I read and hear these stories about things they both said along these lines, the same thoughts went through my head: It is amazing how they know verses that they can try to use to further their agenda, yet don't seem to know the ones about lying, about homosexuality being a sin, about murder - yes, abortion is murder, Obama and Pelosi.
Pelosi's remarks especially have had me thinking lately, and some other things I have run across and been thinking about. It seems even the world knows and can quote a few Bible verses, yet ignore the ones they don't like. We get the ones thrown at us a lot about not judging, and the ones about love...... yet the same people quoting and bringing up those verses would quote them all the more fervently and angrily, if you quoted verses that condemn their sin. They don't want to hear about those verses.
Christianity in general seems to be following their example. Christians love those verses about love, and about not judging just as much as the world does. Maybe more. We like the ones about God knowing the plans for us to give us a future, about the Good Shepherd, about all of our needs being provided, that all thinks work together for those who love God.
But absent from the verses Christians are holding close and living by is a very important verse. Actually two verses. And Jesus said it Himself, so the excuse can't be used that since He didn't say anything about it, it must not be a big deal.... He said it. Matthew 7:13-14:
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (NKJV)
We don't hear much about the narrow way anymore. We hear a lot about not being under the law, but being under grace, and the way that the majority of Christians are traveling seems far from narrow.
Things that used to be considered wrong and were avoided even by sinners, are done openly and defended by Christians. Want to smoke? Go ahead. Just throw those judging Scriptures out. Want to have sex before marriage? Go ahead. Want to go next to naked? Why not.... we are not under the law.
I don't believe we have to be like the Amish in dress and habits, but really, there is barely any difference in the world and Christians anymore. How is that the narrow way?
Something that has really had me thinking about this, is the issue of gay Christians. Now that term can be taken ta few different ways:
1) It can be used to describe someone who struggles with same-sex attractions, but is living a celibate lifestyle and serving God instead of his sexual desires
2) It can mean an ex-gay. Someone who lived the gay lifestyle, then became a Christian and walked away from the gay lifetsyle
3) Those who claim to be Christians and reason around, twist, and/or ignore what the Bible says about homosexuality being a sin.
#3 is the one typically associated with the term "gay Christian", and I won't go into all of the reasons, but wanted to make my point: Knowing all the Bible says about sex between the same gender, how can anyone claim to be on the narrow way and doing that?
And yet there is a multitude of Christians saying it is OK. The lead singer of Christian group Jars of Clay just made news last week by saying he can't see any problem with gay marriage. Ultra liberal author Rachel Held Evans has long made the way so broad that gay people and anyone else can march to the Heaven she claims to be going to, and serve the Jesus she has created. Not only does she mock the idea of any persecution of Christians here in the US, she has opened her arms wide to homosexuality and seems to have no problem with the idea of gay Christians. She recently was teasing Justin Lee, head of the Gay Christian Network, about whether he had a new guy in his life or not..... narrow way? No way.
And yet Rachel, the Jars of Clay dude, and countless other Christians are broadening the Way to include gay people going against God's Word.
But homosexuality isn't all. We dress like the world, talk like the world, smoke what the world smokes, listen to the same music, watch the same stuff, talk like the world...... we are more like the world than we are like Jesus.
And as time marches on, we get more and more like the world. We toss more and more Scriptures aside and swallow the lie that it doesn't matter. We bow to the god of me and do what we want, and anyone who dares suggest we are wrong are judging and hateful.....
We vote for candidates who are intent on furthering the cause of killing babies and defend it by saying it is legal, there's nothing we can do. We vote for the same candidates when they chip away at the very foundations of the family by legalizing same-sex marriage and take up the freedoms and rights of gay people over Christians, the very people who founded this country.
With the legalization of marijuana in some states, if I were a betting man, I'd bet all I have that Christians will soon be smoking marijuana and defending its use. Why not? We do everything else on this broad road we are on.
Christianity isn't about rules, about modesty - though that should be part of it - it isn't about a bunch of do's and don'ts, but if we are more like the world than like Jesus, if we are more concerned with NOT denying ourselves, than with denying, if the cross we carry is just a fancy one around our necks.... we are nowhere close to being on the narrow road.
I am not a proponent of once-saved, always saved, but have total confidence in my friends who believe that way, and I don't have it all worked out what I believe, but one worry I have with that belief is people getting saved, then thinking they can do anything they want and never have any consequences for it. Can't handle temptations of being attracted to the same sex? Give in... you'll still go to Heaven. Don't want to take time to pray and read your Bible? No worries... you'll still go to Heaven.
I am not mocking that belief, but I am afraid with that belief has come a generation of people who feel all it takes is a trip to the altar, and no change afterwards. The Bible says he who is born of God does not sin..... so if you're still sinning - and I am not talking about a fall where you repent and get back up and keep going - I am talking about sinning day after day, and claiming to be a Christian.... whether the sin be homosexuality, lying, sex outside of marriage, or any sin...... you either never got it, or you walked away and are not a Christian.
I have sat under preachers who about ruined me by giving me the idea I could never measure up to what God expects, that Heaven was barely attainable, that God was just waiting for me to mess up so He could toss me aside, and other misconceptions I developed from "fire and brimstone" preachers..... that is damaging and wrong.
But so is this idea that we can do whatever we want and be a Christian. The narrow way might be an idea we want to overlook, but Jesus said it, and it is true.
The idea of preachers preaching things that are not in the Bible and churches requiring things that have no Biblical basis is wrong, but so is going the other way and going with the idea that nothing is out for Christians.
I firmly believe there are things we should not do because we are Christians, places we should not go, things we should not view or read, drink, certain words we don't say, clothes we don't wear.... and not because a church tells us, but because we read God's Word and want to follow the principles in it.
And no, I don't think I have arrived. It is my constant prayer that I do what God wants, not what my church wants, not what my family or anyone else wants. I want to live for Him, not for myself or anyone else. I don't want to be on the broad way, but the narrow way.